Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

VON   HUMBQLBT.                   273
scientific cultivation could only be fonndin a thorough
and fundamental comprehension of the old, and espe-
cially of the Greek, world and literature.    For this.,
several years   of perfect leisure   from business  were
requisite, and where better could he find this than In
the stillness of country life, sufficiently retired from
the excitements and dangers of the capital, on one of
the   large  estates   of his   father-in-law  which   were
already almost his, surrounded only by the happiness
which the love and the society of a congenial  wife
affords.    It  was   principally  the longing for such a,
complete self-education which induced the young- man
to quit for the present the important public sphere
opened for him.     He resigned his appointment, and
left Berlin in the summer of 1791, and only kept the
title of a Prussian councillor of legation.    Ten years
—longer probably than  he at first anticipated—he
spent In scientific and literary activity and In travels.
This was perhaps the happiest period of his life,  and
most Important In its  fruits 1     The whole richness of
his fertile genius was  developed In undisturbed and
observing retirement; the most  eminent  representa-
tives of science and literature visited him in his soli-
tude and Influenced his future labours, and  he was
able, from his secure retreat, to watch the increasing
misery of political Hfe? and the unfortunate issue of the
French   revolutionary   struggle.     His happy destiny
preserved his activity for a better period,
Humboldt was married to Caroline von Dacheroden,
in July, 1791. The happiness of this alliance was ars
Important element in Humboldt's fortunate life, hut
the merit of this happiness is owing in no small
degree to himself. All the force of will and good
intentions, of which Humboldt was capable., centred
In this point. When he had attained the certainty
that Caroline von Dacheroden was to he his wife,, he
immediately made the vow to make her happy under
any circumstances. He never forgot this vow during-
his whole life, and fulfilled it faithfully to the best of
his ability. But it needed not the compulsion of a*